Time names killed, jailed journalists as 2018 Person of the Year

Time has given its 2018 Person of the Year title to four journalists and a newspaper that the magazine says "are representatives of a broader fight by countless others around the world."

Recipients represent 'broader fight by countless others around the world,’ magazine says

Late Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi is among the group of journalists recognized by Time magazine as Person of the Year. (Hasan Jamali/Associated Press)

Time magazine's 2018 Person of the Year title goes to the "guardians and the war on truth."

The honour has been given to four journalists and a newspaper that Time says "are representatives of a broader fight by countless others around the world.

Time's editor in chief Edward Felsenthal made the announcement Tuesday on NBC's Today show. The magazine recognizes the person or group of people who most influenced the news and the world "for better or for worse" during the past year.

The "guardians" are:

  • Jamal Khashoggi, the prominent Saudi journalist who was killed in that country's consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
  • The Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md., where five people were shot and killed at the newspaper's offices in June.
  • Maria Ressa, a Philippine journalist who is head of independent news website Rappler​.
  • Reuters journalists Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, who have been jailed in Myanmar for nearly a year.​

Time said it chose to honour journalism at time when the practice, which is crucial for democracy, is under threat both from governments and technological advances.

"I hope that this is received by the public at large far, far beyond the United States as a reminder of the importance of defending free expression and the pursuit of truth and facts," Ben Goldberger, Time magazine's assistant managing editor, said during an interview. "That is the baseline for all free societies. Democracy certainly cannot function without a shared understanding of the facts."

Political fallout

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, had been living in self-imposed exile in the United States.

U.S. senators briefed by the Central Intelligence Agency have said they are certain that the Saudi crown prince was responsible for Khashoggi's killing, a view U.S. President Donald Trump has said he is skeptical of. The crown prince has denied knowledge of the operation that killed Khashoggi.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were convicted on Sept. 3 under Myanmar's colonial-era Official Secrets Act, in a case seen as a test of democratic freedoms in the Southeast Asian country.

Reuters journalists Wa Lone, centre front, and Kyaw Soe Oo, centre back, are escorted by police as they leave court in Yangon, Myanmar, on Jan. 10. (Lynn Bo Bo/EPA)

They were sentenced to seven years in prison after reporting on a massacre involving Myanmar's military in which 10 Rohingya Muslims were killed and buried in a mass grave.

Rappler, the news website founded by Ressa, has been a frequent critic of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.​ Ressa and her site were charged with tax evasion by the Philippines Justice Department in November.

Maria Ressa, founder of online news platform Rappler, speaks to the media after posting bail for tax evasion charges in Pasig City, Philippines, on Dec. 3. (Eloisa Lopez/Reuters)

The shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper came amid months of verbal and online criticism of the "fake news media" from American politicians including U.S. President Donald Trump, although the alleged shooter appeared to have a grudge against the paper that predated Trump's political career.

Those killed in the attack were:

  • Rob Hiaasen, assistant managing editor.
  • Gerald Fischman, editorial page editor.
  • Wendi Winters, features writer.
  • John McNamara, reporter.
  • Rebecca Smith, sales assistant.

Two other staff newspaper staff members were injured. Jarrod Warren Ramos faces first-degree murder charges.

Candles representing the slain journalists of the Capital Gazette sit on display during a candlelight vigil held near the newspaper's headquarters on June 29. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

"Whether they have been denied their freedom or been brutally murdered, honouring their work speaking truth to power is essential at this critical time where reporters are under unprecedented threat across the globe," said Margaux Ewen, the North America director for Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans​ Frontières).

The four groups were highlighted on four separate covers of the magazine, one of which features the wives of the imprisoned Reuters reporters embracing each other as they hold photos of their husbands.

The four magazine covers for the Person of the Year show Jamal Khashoggi, top left, members of the Capital Gazette newspaper, top right, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, bottom left, and Maria Ressa. (Time Magazine via Associated Press)

With files from CBC News and Reuters


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